Gladiator opens in the U.S. ~ 2000
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Press conference for Gladiator in Sydney ~ 2000
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Source: Entertainment Weekly
May 05, 2000
No Roman Holiday
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott say the set was plagued by problems
By Liane Bonin
Sure, Russell Crowe fights bloodthirsty tigers and sweaty Germanic hordes in ''Gladiator,'' but the real struggle was behind the scenes. The jumbo-size epic -- which called for 2,500 specially designed weapons, 500 gladiator tunics, 30,000 mud bricks, and the burning of an entire English forest -- also had jumbo-size troubles. ''C'mon, this was a $103 million dollar film being shot in four countries,'' says the 36-year-old Crowe. ''So of course there were very, very many complicated problems. And we just had to deal with them as they came up.''
Most of the trouble arose as soon as the production touched down in Malta. Though additional scenes were shot in Morocco, Italy, and London, director Ridley Scott and production designer Arthur Max felt Malta's 6,000 year old ruins were the best backdrop for the film's re-creation of ancient Rome. Bad idea. ''We couldn't control the weather, and we couldn't control the politics,'' says Max. ''We came in the midst of an election during which everyone who we'd been dealing with was voted out of office, and our permits went with them.'' Though Max was able to lobby for new permits, there was nothing he could do to stop Malta from suffering through its worst winter in 30 years. ''Parts of the set were destroyed by storms, and a lot of materials we were having shipped in couldn't reach us because the ships couldn't enter the port,'' says Max.
Delays didn't loosen studio purse strings, either. ''Everyone had agreed on a certain cap of money,'' says producer Doug Wick. ''Luckily Ridley didn't say, 'Okay you assholes, if you want it, I'll do it, but it'll cost you five more million.''' Last minute tweaking of the script and a new ending helped the production to stay on track. ''Literally until the last two or three weeks of shooting, we were making adjustments,'' says Wick.
Most of the changes were made to accommodate the death of actor Oliver Reed, who had completed roughly 90 percent of his scenes before suffering a heart attack last May. ''When it came to insuring actors, the only person over whom there was a little question was Oliver Reed, and unfortunately that turned out to be prescient,'' says Wick. Scott, who also helmed the effects-heavy ''Bladerunner,'' used CGI, a body double, and clever editing to make up for Reed's absence. ''We had another ending in mind, in which his character Proximo would have gone on to Morocco and had a jolly good time being the bastard he always was, but it wasn't possible,'' says Scott. ''So I revised the jigsaw puzzle. I used three shots of Ollie from different scenes, and his dialogue from different scenes, then grafted it all together with CGI.''
At least one potential problem had an easy solution. Fearing Crowe might injure himself and slow down production, the producers sent the actor a memo asking that he not play soccer until the film was over. ''That was funny,'' says Crowe. ''I mean, they'd let me run in front of chariots, wrestle tigers, and do battle with 5,000 men in the snow and mud. The memo I sent back was, 'I can wrestle four tigers, but I can't play soccer? Get over it. Love, Russell.'''
Source: People magazine
May 5, 2001
Crowe in Kidnap Plot: FBI
By Stephen M. Silverman
"Gladiator" Oscar nominee Russell Crowe, whose last role was that of a kidnap-hostage negotiator in "Proof of Life," has become the target of a real-life abduction plot, the FBI announced on Tuesday. No details of the case have been divulged (standard m.o. for the FBI), though Bureau spokeswoman Laura Bosley said that because various media reports had surfaced recently, "we have confirmed that we have an investigation into a plot to kidnap him." Crowe's publicist, Robin Baum, told Reuters, "We're aware of (the plot) and the FBI has been helpful in guiding us, and he (Crowe) has taken the necessary security precautions." TV's "Entertainment Tonight" reported that Crowe, 36, was first told of the plot by the FBI prior to last Jan. 21's Golden Globe Awards and that he attended the ceremony flanked by FBI agents outfitted in tuxedos. Bosley declined to say whether or not the New Zealand-born actor had received FBI protection, but said, "He has his own security, and I understand that's been increased."
Source: The Jewish Journal
May 5, 2010
Stars Shine at Wiesenthal Center Tribute
By Danielle Berrin
The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance (MOT) once again proved that flaunting a cuddly relationship with Hollywood helps boost its cause. This year's national tribute dinner, honoring director-producer team Ron Howard and Brian Grazer along with three recipients of the organization's Medal of Valor award, attracted one of the most star-studded crowds in recent years. Some of the industry's heaviest heavyweights - including DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Disney President/CEO Bob Iger and actor Russell Crowe - gathered in the Beverly Wilshire ballroom for a two-hour homage to MOT's human rights work.
The annual event, held on May 5, drew leaders from the Walt Disney Co. - Iger and chair Rich Ross - as well as the top brass from NBC Universal, including CEO Jeff Zucker and studio head Ron Meyer, who sat with the honorees in a show of solidarity for the upcoming Grazer-produced "Robin Hood," starring Crowe, who was there to present Howard and Grazer with their Humanitarian Award.
Also at the table of honor was director Brett Ratner, who has made it something of a tradition to lead HaMotzi.
After tardy emcee Jay Leno failed to thrill with a brief routine on rectally inserted bombs and explosive diarrhea, Katzenberg wisely detected the crowd's cool reception and announced that Leno had written a check - no word on how much - to the Wiesenthal Center. "Had you mentioned that before," Leno said, leaning into the microphone, "I would have gotten bigger laughs."
Crowe took the stage next to introduce Howard and Grazer with a speech he had "spent most of the day writing," according to his post on Twitter.
"What is at the core of the American dream," Crowe said, "is tolerance and humanity; in [Howard's and Grazer's] work, you see tolerance and humanity are very important to them, and when you meet them you realize their kindness as men."
Although it wasn't explicit why Grazer and Howard were chosen to receive the evening's highest honor - especially in light of the work of the evening's other honorees - they both delivered tender and personal remarks about what the award meant to them.
Howard, who is not Jewish, recalled a time early in his career on the set of "Happy Days" when director Jerry Paris noticed him pacing nervously. Howard told Paris he was indeed feeling jittery.
"Cute," Howard remembered Paris saying. "WASP-y on the outside, total Jew on the inside!"
Howard said that Paris, who died in 1986, would often say to him, "It's never too late - we can still bar mitzvah you!"
"Well Jerry, this is not quite the bar mitzvah you dreamed of, but it's pretty remarkable," he said to heaps of laughter.
Howard spoke eloquently about the importance of American leadership in promoting cultural diversity and "the human yearning for unity." The Museum of Tolerance, he said, "is a living reminder that silent witnesses to tyranny and injustice are tacit supporters."
Photo caption: From left: Rabbi Meyer H. May, Wiesenthal Center executive director; Rabbi Marvin Hier, Wiesenthal Center dean and founder; Brian Grazer; Jay Leno; Russell Crowe; Ron Howard; and Larry Mizel, chairman of the Wiesenthal Center's board of trustees. Photo by Marissa Roth, coourtesy of the Simon Wiesenthal Center